Former Foreign Exchange Student Returns to Rugby
An open house was held July 26 for a Rugby High School alumna.
The event was held for Anne Pia (Johansen) Mllenhus, who was at the Pat & Joyce (Rocheleau) McKinzie farm with her husband, Nils Ole, and sons, Martin, 13, Mikkel, 10, and Iver, 7.
Anne Pia graduated from RHS in 1986 at the age of 16, and was a foreign exchange student from Trondheim, Norway. In Norway she was active in sports, particularly handball and soccer. During her time in Rugby (August 1985 through July 1986) she participated in sports and was a member of the Panther Dancers. She also took up art and was in the band, the latter of which was considered an extracurricular activity in Norway.
“Coming to Rugby was really different from what I was used to,” Anne said. “It’s a very big cultural difference between Norway and the U.S., especially at that time.”
Anne experienced several differences between Norway and the U.S., including schools being closed during inclement weather and people driving more versus walking and riding bike.
At the time, Anne lived with Joyce and the late Bob Rocheleau. With no children of their own, Bob approached Joyce about hosting an exchange student after seeing an advertisement in the Tribune.
“He [Bob] said, ‘I think we should get an exchange student,’ and I said, ‘What did you say?'” McKinzie said. “It was really quite a change for us, not having any children of our own, but it worked out really, really well. She is a wonderful, wonderful gal.”
With Bob and Joyce, Anne had the opportunity to see other parts of the U.S., including Arizona and California. Since then, she has traveled to Alaska and parts of Canada with her husband.
Today, Anne lives and works in Oslo, Norway, as a landscape architect, and her husband works for a bank.To date, she has been back to Rugby four times, and her and Joyce still try to keep in touch.
“We must’ve done something right,” McKinzie said jokingly.
Anne said: “It’s really fun to be back. It’s really nice to see people that I used to know way back and they’re so kind, warm and really nice people. And it’s really amazing because it’s been so many years since I was here and it’s really amazing to meet all these people again. They still remember me and I still remember them. It’s nice to see life take place in a good way here.”
McKinzie added: “She [Anne] was well-known and well-liked when she was here.”
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